The international side of brokerage
Buying and selling pre-owned yachts is often considered a local business, but in a Column for Yacht Style, Adam Blackmore of Fraser Hong Kong explains that online information, photos, videos and 3D tours, combined with experienced yacht-shipping operators, are making brokerage increasingly international.
During the sale of Odyssey, a 44m Royal Denship, I spent a lot of time with the yacht’s new crew, who had come over from Italy, and the previous crew who cared for her during her time in Hong Kong.
When the shipping date came, we were all present to load her onto the vessel and I remember thinking, ‘What a dichotomy, the old and the new’, which also embodies Hong Kong.
In a city where modern skyscrapers mix with old temples, here I was with the old crew, the new crew, a glistening modern yacht and a very old fishing boat that belonged to the diver who was assisting us with the load. And behind us, the sun was setting on the South China Sea. It was a memorable, unique moment and led me to consider how brokerage is becoming increasingly international.
Fraser is very experienced in shipping yachts of all sizes around the world, but our Hong Kong office is mainly involved with transport between Europe and Hong Kong or other Asian yachting hubs.
The likes of Odyssey are moved around the world using heavy-lift ships that carry a variety of cargo and are equipped with lifting gear and cranes. Once loaded on board, the yacht is then strapped to the deck of the boat in custom-made cradles. Loading a boat onto a ship is a very delicate and precise process, and we only consider moving yachts that are fully insured.
It’s also important to work with a trusted partner. I like to work with Charles Massey and the team at Sevenstar Yacht Transport because they have loadmasters who are trained to load yachts properly.
It requires a specific set of skills and the loadmaster must fully understand the weight distribution of a yacht as well as his gut feeling based on many years of experience.
Potential buyers are sometimes surprised to hear that it isn’t prohibitively expensive to ship a yacht, even between continents, with many assuming it will take too long and cost too much.
Every buyer has unique needs and wants when choosing a yacht, so it becomes particularly important to find the right one, even if it’s located overseas. You don’t buy a yacht because you need it but because you want it, so when a buyer finds ‘their’ yacht, they’re often happy to spend the extra money to ship it.
It’s a win-win situation, because sellers in Hong Kong, for example, are pleased to hear that the pool of potential buyers for their yacht is much larger than just this city or even Asia.
Despite the challenges this year, we’ve witnessed the yachting industry continue to grow throughout Asia. Given travel restrictions, the pandemic has created strong demand for yachts in Hong Kong, which can mean searching other markets to find one that meets a buyer’s criteria.
As there are now more first-time buyers, there’s an increase in brokerage sales between Hong Kong and other Asian markets and beyond. Considering Fraser’s large network of potential buyers around the world, I believe in taking the time to be creative when marketing a yacht.
As an example, the former owner of Odyssey allowed us to use the boat for two days to do photography, filming and take 3-D scans, so we were able to give any potential buyer around the world a really strong feeling for what it would be like to be on board.
And because buying a yacht is an emotional experience, I use film and photographs to highlight the unique features of each boat. This helps potential buyers feel immersed in the experience of what it would be like to walk the decks, enter the saloon, sit up on the sundeck and enjoy the views, whether it’s the sea, towering skyscrapers or a small fishing boat.
Blackmore is Commercial Director at Asiamarine, having joined in 2017, and a Sales Broker for Fraser, which is represented by Asiamarine in selected markets. Working in the yachting industry since 2007 and moving from England to Asia in 2013, he has helped hundreds of clients buy and sell pre-owned yachts, also guiding many through the new-yacht construction process.